“You know you have to take care of your family, right? You’re the man of the house after all,” says a family member to my 17-year-old brother while I, 20 and working, sit there staring at the casual patriarchy.
The first time this happened was when my family and I got together for lunch. I wasn’t paying attention to the conversation until I heard someone say that to my brother. Without giving him a chance to respond, I began telling them it’s silly to think that I’m capable of only getting married, leaving all the pressure on the “man” of the house. I was furious because they knew the facts. They knew I’m the first child and that I’ll get a chance to earn before my brother will. So, it was clear that my work and efforts were bring blindsided just because I’m a woman. But, speaking up didn’t change anything. They laughed it off because I’m destined to leave the house, right?
Now, the next few times something like this happened, all I did was nod because I realised that if my words weren’t making an impact, I’d have to wait for my work to speak for itself. It wasn’t easy, but it was also the only way.
And while I was finding my way through this, my brother, who’s grown up around working women, spoke up and told the nosy relatives that our mother runs the house so he sees no reason why his sister cannot take up the responsibility as well. I was proud, and why wouldn’t I be? After all, we didn’t teach him that, he noticed it himself. This was a reminder that if not everyone, someone’s listening.
I’d be lying if I said that such comments didn’t bother me anymore. They do, but definitely not as much as they did the first time. And, in this case, I believe that defeat would be to give up simply because patriarchy appears to be winning. So now, all I do is nod, and remind myself to continue doing my thing because, eventually, my actions will speak louder than my words.